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Traditional Method of Coconut Oil Extraction: Asha Devi Varma’s Quest to revive it

Asha Devi Varma, a retired agricultural officer in Kerala, is trying to revive the traditional method of coconut oil extraction.

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Asha Devi Varma at her residence in Kerala. Image Source : thehindu.com
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  • Asha Devi Varma, a retired officer in Kerala, is trying to revive the traditional method of coconut oil extraction
  • She is doing so with the help of advice from doctors and Ayurveda experts and local women who help her with daily preparations
  • Her business is small but the products are highly recommended by doctors

In the recent years, the growing demand of coconut and the health benefits attached to it has led companies experiment with it and make it fancier day by day. The coconut products have become commercialized to a large extent- seasoning for desserts, for making quirky cocktails, drinks- commercialization has made everything profitable for the coconut industry. However, the original process of extracting virgin coconut oil has almost disappeared from the households of Kerala.

Asha Devi Varma is a retired agricultural officer who is attempting to revive the natural process of coconut oil extraction in Kerala. Previously, women used to process coconut to extract the virgin oil naturally at home through a process called velichenna kaachiyathu which protected the goodness of the oil.

Coconut oil, extracted naturally. Image Source : thehindu.com
Coconut oil, extracted naturally. Image Source : thehindu.com

After having retired from service, Asha Devi was not ready to live the life of a retiree. She wanted to do something to make a difference. She went over to young housewives and asked them if they knew the process of extracting coconut oil from coconuts. She was surprised to discover that none of the women of the current generation know anything about the process of extraction. “It came as a surprise to me but none of the women from this generation knew the way coconut oil is extracted traditionally, something that their grandmothers would have done routinely,” said Asha to The Hindu. So she contacted some elderly ladies and Ayurveda experts to get a firsthand experience of the process.

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After having learnt the process, she brought in young ladies from the local area to start learning it. The initial phase was difficult since it was a delicate process and it was impossible to get it right on the first try. So, the phase of trial and error went on for some time until the art was perfected by them. Now, Asha Devi and her local women prepare homemade baby oil, cooking oil and beauty oil and sell, locally. She gets about 10-12 litres of coconut oil shipped from Lakshadweep to Kerala. Her business has become quite successful.

Coconut milk. Image Source : coconut-info.net
Coconut milk. Image Source : coconut-info.net

Even though her business is small, it is highly recommended by doctors for babies and their mothers. “Coconut milk has contents that are found in mother’s milk. Its properties are good for hair and skin,” Asha Devi told The Hindu. She further asserted regarding the coconut oil, that, “A couple of spoons taken orally is supposed to heal the body after childbirth. The beauty oil gives a healthy skin. This is traditional knowledge”.

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Asha Devi is thrilled at the way her business is progressing. Her happiness is not just because of the profits or contacts that they are gaining but it is partly because she has succeeded in reviving the traditional method of coconut oil extraction and processing. Her initiative and perseverance are commendable, indeed.

-prepared by Atreyee Sengupta, an intern at NewsGram.

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5 Health Tips To Prepare Yourself For Onset Of Summer

Dr. Hariprasad, Ayurveda Expert, The Himalaya Drug Company, shares five tips that will help you stay fit by avoiding diseases and ailments this summer

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The onset of a new season can be tricky; it can call for a change in routine, a revamped diet, and a new exercise regimen that suits the weather. Pixabay
The onset of a new season can be tricky; it can call for a change in routine, a revamped diet, and a new exercise regimen that suits the weather. Pixabay

As winter starts to give way to the spring, people struggle to keep pace with the seasonal transition and the potential health risks posed by the change.

The onset of a new season can be tricky; it can call for a change in routine, a revamped diet, and a new exercise regimen that suits the weather.

Dr. Hariprasad, Ayurveda Expert, The Himalaya Drug Company, shares five tips that will help you stay fit by avoiding diseases and ailments this summer.

ALSO READ: How govt can provide better healthcare system to more than 125 crore people in India

A natural way of staying hydrated is ample intake of fruits and vegetables that have high water content -- oranges, watermelon, tomatoes, etc. Pixabay
A natural way of staying hydrated is ample intake of fruits and vegetables that have high water content — oranges, watermelon, tomatoes, etc. Pixabay

1. Eat light and healthy

Your body will require a constant supply of water and fluids to sustain through the rough weather. Heavy meals with large amounts of carbohydrates and fats give rise to a lot of heat in the body. A natural way of staying hydrated is ample intake of fruits and vegetables that have high water content — oranges, watermelon, tomatoes, etc. This helps balance your core body temperature and keeps diseases at bay. It also helps hydrate the skin and keep it supple.

Natural fabrics such as cotton, silk, and linen are much better than synthetic fabrics. Pixabay
Natural fabrics such as cotton, silk, and linen are much better than synthetic fabrics. Pixabay

2. Gear up for summer

The Indian summer is known for its high temperatures and humidity, which can make you feel uncomfortable and stuffy. Wearing light and breathable fabrics is an effective way to beat the heat. Natural fabrics such as cotton, silk, and linen are much better than synthetic fabrics.

Wear clothes that enable your skin to be exposed to the sun. Pixabay
Wear clothes that enable your skin to be exposed to the sun. Pixabay

3. Embrace the radiance of the Sun

Post the shivers and heavy woolens of winter, the sun will finally invite you to bask in its warm glow. As sunlight is one of the best sources of Vitamin D, use this opportunity to exercise or eat outdoors in the morning. It is advisable to soak in the sun rays early in the morning, as this can be a great way of starting your day on a fresh and rejuvenating note.

According to Ayurveda texts and modern research, Tagara can calm the mind due to its sedative and sleep-enhancing properties. Pixabay
According to Ayurveda texts and modern research, Tagara can calm the mind due to its sedative and sleep-enhancing properties. Pixabay

4. Ensure regular and undisturbed sleep

While air conditioners have reduced the discomfort significantly, sleep patterns can still take a hit in the hot, humid weather. Intake of natural herbs like Tagara can promote restful sleep.

Use one that contains ingredients like camphor oil, mint extracts, nutmeg oil, and turpentine oil, as they help provide quick, symptomatic relief from common cold. Pixabay
Use one that contains ingredients like camphor oil, mint extracts, nutmeg oil, and turpentine oil, as they help provide quick, symptomatic relief from common cold. Pixabay

ALSO READ: WHO’s newly Elected Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stresses on Health as Human Right

5. Be prepared for summer infections

Most people suffer from ailments such as common cold, sore throats, and viral infections in summer because of the heat and dust. While a preventive care approach is imperative, being prepared to face an unexpected disease is equally important. It is advisable to keep a cold balm as part of your first aid kit, as it eases the symptoms of common cold and is easy to carry around.

This quintessential health guide is easy to follow and will help you get ready for the long and warm summer. (IANS)